The problem is as follows.
Stress can be relieved very easily when you come to—or force—the realization that a given situation doesn’t really matter. And really, that isn’t very difficult to do, given the right frame. You see, ultimately, most situations don’t matter.
Let’s assume we live to be 80. And if you don’t live to be 80, it’s because something outside of your control happened like, say, you got hit by a bus.
You’ve got a lot of time left. You can do all sorts of things with that time. You can try again. You can change your mind. You can move. Possibilities just stretch on and on.
Tomorrow, you could throw away your id, grab a warm coat, and just start walking. You might not even need the coat.
My point being, you’ve got a lot of time left, so what happens tomorrow really doesn’t matter. You’ll have time to fix it, or to find something new.
We’ll go into more of this later, but for now, here’s my point. Stress can, with some effort, be manipulated away.
Now, there can be a ton of advantages to that, the most obvious being… you aren’t stressed anymore. Not being stressed generally allows a greater degree of self-control. It allows you to do what you want, because stress, when it reaches certain levels, can become a paralytic.
As a rule, anything that paralyzes you is bad.
Now, there are some obvious, and pretty key, disadvantages to what I’ve just described, one of them being a sense of urgency. Stress lends a sense of urgency to certain things, those things that worry you and, let’s face it, probably should be urgent. If you do not feel stress, then important things will just fritter away.
fritter enough things away, and even with thirty or forty or fifty years left,
you wont be able to catch up on the opportunities
The other major issue with getting rid of stress is the highlights stress makes. Those butterflies fermenting in your stomach? They add a weight, a significance to an event, that wouldn’t be there otherwise. They’re worth savouring.
So what we have here, is a paradox.
(I love these)
Here, we want the best of both worlds. We want to be able to avoid the consequences of stress. (I am here assuming that the biggest consequence of stress is missed opportunity through inaction.)
too much action can also be bad,
and will sap the joy from your life
but I’m not going to go into that now
The other disadvantage is mild, or at least passing, discomfort. I’m going to deem that unimportant.
when said discomfort ceases to be mild or
it can become important
this, however, is another subject
So, we would like the urgency stress adds to a situation, we would like the significance it adds to a situation, and furthermore, we would like to keep stress from being a paralytic.
Now, I started out by giving you all the reasons you shouldn’t be stressed. Now I’ve given reasons stress is good, but I haven’t yet given reasons to be stressed. I’ll be going into those now.
To start with, we’ve all heard of the butterfly effect, right? Short explanation: if a butterfly flaps its wings somewhere, it can cause a hurricane somewhere else. Cause, effect, cause, effect, cause, hurricane. Because of a butterfly.
This means that a tiny action you take right now, could have an effect on you in twenty years. A hurricane effect.
Now, I don’t believe that every single thing you do will have some major significance. In fact, I believe most actions, taken individually, will not. But you know what? Some of them will. Something today might have. Maybe something tomorrow. You don’t know. And you do a thousand things in a day. And there are seven days in a week. And
we could cry until we can’t breathe—sadness
there are four weeks in a month. And those months just keep on coming.
So what this means, is that everything you do, could affect you, for better or worse, in twenty years. And that, my friend, is more than enough to stress over.
So, we’re going to treat everything as having the potential to change our lives. But…
If everything out there, from smallest to largest, has the potential to drastically affect us, and we have no way of knowing which is which is why and when, added to the fact you don’t know which active choice is the right path and which is the first step to damnation in twenty years because you didn’t glance at the clouds when going for a walk and ah ah ah, oh no, what am I going to do, nonononoNOOOO!!!!!!
Boom. Paralytic. Because everything you do, every action you take, has the potential to be the wrong choice.
Everything. You do.
I had way more fun writing that part then a person should. I’m just imagining the trembling lips and wide eyes as the significance of this sinks in.
I’m going to go back into this later, but first, let’s review.
- Stress is bad. It’s a paralytic, and can have negative effects on your actions.
- Stress is good. It lends urgency to things that deserve it, as well as a weight to significant actions and circumstances.
- Stress can be shut down.
- Shutting down stress entirely causes you to miss out on its advantages.
- Let’s make an internal paradox, wherein we get the best of both worlds! But first, let’s explain stress…
- Stress is generally ill-founded because we’ve got (arguably) 80 years on this earth to try again and experiment and figure stuff out. But wait…
- Everything affects everything! So your tiny action today can rock your world in twenty years! So stress! Stress and stress and then cry in the fetal position! Because really, that’s the only reaction that makes sense.
So this is where we are so far. The only thing that makes sense is to cry.
but with everyone super…no one will be—syndrome
Or go insane.
Because look around you. Today, you walked by a hundred hundred people. And each person has a thousand little threads branching off them, one for everything they do today, except for the things that don’t matter, but no one knows which things those are. And these threads are going to get all tangled up with everyone else threads, and there’s no way to follow even one thread back to the source because this butterfly effect has been going on since time began and maybe this thread is important but I don’t know and no one knows and here we go into chaos.
And no one can tell if you made the right choice! Chances are, you’ll never know if the choice you made is what caused you to meet this person, getting tangled up in his threads, and changing your life.
im here talking about non-moral choices,
like what you eat for
or which way you drive home
in moral choices, you obviously still cant tell the effects that will stem,
but there is still a clear,
or at least solid
So in short, you’ll never know what effects your choices will have because there are too many variables. Make sense?
Here we come full circle in this particular idea. Everything matters, but to such a fundamental degree that you cannot allow it to affect your actions, because that will cause, that’s right, paralysis, and we want to avoid stasis at all costs.
It’s a sort of nihilism through idealism, an idea I just find infinitely funny.
its really not so good to have time. rush, scramble, desperation, this missed, that left behind, those others too big to fit into such a small place—that’s the way life was meant to be. youre supposed to be too late for some things. don’t worry about it—the skull in haggard’s castle
Everything matters and affects everything.
This leads to the conclusion that life is largely unpredictable, and you can’t make choices based on this, since you can’t predict the outcome, making said choices meaningless.
There’s a pretty easy, and entirely ill-suited conclusion you can come to from all this. It’s a conclusion that lets you avoid stress, guilt, all sorts of nasty things, but it kind of robs you of any integrity. So here is the conclusion I am NOT trying to lead you too.
Whenever you fail at something, or duck out, or piss yourself and hide, just remind yourself that, ‘Hey! That guy on the internet said nothing matters! Nihilism through, uhhhh….. Nothing matters! That makes it okay! There’s a Star Trek Marathon on tonight!”
Whenever you succeed at something, crawling out of the basement into the light of day, remind yourself that ‘Hey! Everything matters! Idealism and, butterflies stop hurricanes! Now I can go watch the Star Trek Marathon because I’m gonna be rich in twenty years!’
I will repeat. Those last two paragraphs? Wrong. Not the conclusions you should be drawing.
So we’ve gone through that everything effects—or might affect—everything else. And this happens to the extent that life is unpredictable. Now, there’s one more thing I’m not saying.
Most of life is unpredictable. True.
It does not follow that all of life is unpredictable, or that you cannot apply simple cause and effect in your daily life. If you stay up all night, you will be tired. There isn’t enough chaos to change that (In this situation, coffee is not considered a form of chaos). If you have enough sugar, you will become giddy. If you practice throwing and catching a knife, you will, at some point, cut yourself (personal experience, I’m afraid).
So, aside from simple equations, life is unpredictable. Accept it. Move on. I strongly discourage crying in the fetal position. It’s a paralytic.
Continuing with the numbering above,
7. Everything you do, will affect your life, or has the potential to.
8. This is such a large and ununderstandable idea, that you cannot base decisions on it.
So, we went through all that, and came to the conclusion, that we don’t know anything, and we clearly can’t base decisions off of our non-knowledge. So, I’ve reached two conclusions about what you should do. This will come back to stress, I promise.
if whatever youre going to do is wrong, you might as well do whatever you want—chronicler
You won’t be able to predict all the results of your actions. Never. So, you may as well do whatever will make you happiest at that moment. Or, what you can follow as a simple, or probable, equation to what will make you happy. This is the first situation, and I consider it less important than the second one.
The second situation is a little more complex.
Basically, the more doors you open, the more avenues, choices, you will have. And the more likely you are to find one that leads you to happiness. Now, you can’t predict precise results. But, as a rule, when you do something, it opens a door. This is more likely to lead to a conclusion of your choice, rather than one out of your control. Because when you do something, you’re opening a door. This is important. The action of doing something, opens a door. Later, you can choose not to go through the door, or decide the avenue looks a little less interesting then you’d like. But if you do not commit that first action, then the door stays closed. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to close the door later, but you might only have one to open it.
And the more doors you have open, the more possible routes you have to happiness.
Of course, by committing an action and opening a door, you may be closing another one. But that door will likely be an older one, and one you have less control over. Maybe even one you can’t see anymore, or have forgotten about. And if it’s not…well, then you’ll have to make a decision. How useful will that old door be? How about the new one?
With so many things out of your control, this is what you know. By committing a certain action, you open a door. By not committing said action, you leave the door closed. And that’s really all you have to go on.
So we’ve established that you should base your decisions on
9. If their results will make you happy, and more primarily, by the fact that actions tend to open doors, which is desirable.
Now’s where we tie it all back to stress. And it’s really very simple.
You make the decision ahead of time.
I’ve decided that you will base your decision on doors. You can introduce more variables, but we’re going to keep things simple, just like the rest of this post has been (ha! Just kidding).
You make the decision, right now, that when faced with a choice between opening a door or not, YOU WILL OPEN THE DOOR. Gonna talk to someone or not? Talk to them. Dropping off resumes? Try that one new store. Taking classes? Take that other one, the one that sounded interesting. Go for a walk by the river? Grab your coat and step outside. OPEN. THE. DOOR.
Make the decision.
Then, when you’re faced with the circumstance, faced with the door, you’ll already know what you’re going to do. It won’t be a question.
So, you’ll be faced with a stressful situation. You’ll feel the urgency of something, wanting to do it before it’s gone. You’ll feel the significance, trembling in your stomach. And you’ll have made your decision. You’ll avoid the paralysis.
Open the door.